Music / KISS
The current line-up since March 2004. From left to right: Gene Simmons, Eric Singer, Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer.

"Alright, TV Tropes! You wanted the best, you got the best! The hottest band in the world, KISS!"

KISS is an American rock band, formed in the January 1973 in New York City. It is well known for the face paint and complex costumes worn by the band-members, and its theatrical concerts, which involve, among other things, fire breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, and lots of pyrotechnics. The most well-known members are front-man Paul Stanley (rhythm guitar; his stage persona is "Starchild", due to being a "starry-eyed lover" and "hopeless romantic", a little ironic as he's now Happily Married) and of course Gene Simmons (bass; the "Demon", cynical and fan of dark elements, and also known for his enormous tongue). The two other founding members are the guitarist Ace Frehley (the "Spaceman", a reflection of his fondness for science fiction and supposedly being from another planet) and drummer Peter Criss (the "Catman", in accordance with the belief that he had nine lives because of his rough childhood in Brooklyn.), whose make-ups are still worn by their current replacements, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer (respectively).

The band also made a full-length horror film, KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park (1978). They don't like to talk about it, or at least two still don't like to.

Not to be confused with kissing, the book Kiss, or the KISS principle.

Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Paul Caravello (Eric Carr) - drums, percussion, guitar, backing and lead vocals, bass (1980-1991, died 1991)
  • George Criscuola (Peter Criss) - drums, percussion, backing and lead vocals (19721980, 19962001, 20022004)
  • Vincent Cusano (Vinnie Vincent) - guitar, vocals (1982-1984)
  • Stanley Eisen (Paul Stanley) - lead and backing vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard (1972-Present)
  • Anton Fig - drums (1980)
  • Paul "Ace" Frehley - guitar, bass, backing and lead vocals (19721982, 19962002)
  • Bruce Kulick - guitar, bass, backing and lead vocals (1984-1996)
  • Eric Mensinger (Eric Singer) - drums, backing and lead vocals (19911996, 20012002, 2004-Present)
  • Mark Norton (Mark St. John) - guitar (1984, died 2007)
  • Tommy Thayer - guitar, backing and lead vocals (2002-Present)
  • Chaim Witz (Gene Simmons) - lead and backing vocals, bass, guitar (1972-Present)

Studio Discography:

Live Discography:

  • 1975 Alive!
  • 1977 Alive II
  • 1993 Alive III
  • 1996 KISS Unplugged
  • 1996 You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best !!
  • 2003 Kiss Symphony: Alive IV
  • 2004 Kiss Instant Live
  • 2006 Alive! The Millennium Concert
  • 2008 KISS Alive 35
  • 2010 Kiss Sonic Boom Over Europe
  • 2016 - KISS Rocks Vegas


  • Absentee Musician: Ace Frehley, during much of Music From The Elder and the entirety of Creatures Of The Night, leading to his replacement by Vinnie Vincent. Also Peter Criss during much of Dynasty and the entirety of Unmasked, leading to his replacement by Eric Carr. And finally, both Frehley and Criss were absent for most of Psycho Circus, with Frehley playing guitar only on two songs (three if you include bonus track) and Criss playing drums on only one song.
    • During his absences in the 1970s, Frehley was replaced in the studio by Bob Kulick (whose brother Bruce would later join the band) and former Alice Cooper guitarist Dick Wagner, while Criss was replaced by future David Letterman drummer Anton Fig.
  • All Drummers Are Animals: In a more literal sense, with the Catman (Criss, then Singer) and the Fox (Carr).
    • Criss is a subversion, though, as he's pretty jazzy; after all, he's the man behind "Beth"...
  • The Alcoholic:
    • Ace is known for this. Just (re)watch the infamous Tom Snyder interview.
    • During the Hotter Than Hell photo session, everyone but Gene got drunk. Paul was drunk enough that he got locked inside his own car!
    • Gene, who is The Teetotaler, is an inversion.
  • An Axe to Grind: One of Gene's signature basses is a huge battleaxe.
  • Annoying Laugh: Ace. This guy probably has the most recognizable laugh in rock and roll. You can hear it here (it's admittedly rather hard not to laugh along with him).
  • Arch-Enemy: Pretty much every music critic of the last 40 years, especially at Rolling Stone.
    "Fuck Gene Simmons you make me sick
    Psycho Circus, you stole my shit!"
  • Ascended Fanboy: Tommy Thayer used to be in a Kiss tribute band. He then co-wrote a couple of filler songs for Kiss during The '80s. Then he was a session musician in the Psycho Circus album. Moreover, he also used to be Kiss' tour manager and Ace Frehley's guitar coach during The '90s reunion era before finally being made an official band member and taking over Frehley's guitar chores (and of course, he was/is a fan).
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: On their infamous 1979 appearance on Tom Snyder, we have this:
    Tom Snyder: (to Ace) But you're kind of like a spaceman, huh?
    Ace: No, actually I'm a plumber. (laughs)
  • Audience Participation Song: Several, but especially "Rock and Roll All Nite". In a live show, the chorus can stretch the song out by several minutes from loops of the band and the crowd taking turns.
  • Badass Boast: See the page quote, from the opening of Alive II.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie:
    • Apparently their breakthrough album Alive! had guitar overdubs, sound-check songs with the audience added in the studio, and other less-than-live shenanigans (over and above the normal studio mixing and whatnot), to compensate for the quality issues of the original live recording. In his autobiography, Simmons denied this was the case, stating that at that point the band was in a bad financial situation, and their label Casablanca Records was also in dire straits after their double album of Johnny Carson monologues, leaving them with a meagre budget for the album. However, Criss (in his autobiography) and producer Eddie Kramer both claim that the only thing remaining from the original live recordings is Criss' drums, though Kramer at a much earlier period mostly agreed with Simmons that only few overdubs to correct the most obvious mistakes were applied.
    • Dynasty credits Peter Criss with drums and vocals. In reality, he only played drums on his song, "Dirty Livin'", the rest of the songs being recorded by studio drummer Anton Fig.
    • Unmasked credits Criss, once again, with drums, percussion, and vocals, while also featuring him on the album's cover and appearing on the album's single "Shandi" video. In reality, he wasn't involved at all with the recording of the album, with Fig (for a second, uncredited time) taking his place on the recording, while Eric Carr replaced Criss on the album's tour and eventually as a band member.
    • Similarly, Creatures of the Night credits Ace Frehley with lead guitars while also featuring him on the album's cover and appearing on the album's single "I Love It Loud" video. In reality, he's completely absent, Bob Kulick, Steve Ferris and Vinnie Vincent played lead guitars on the recording, the latter taking his place on the album's tour and eventually as a band member.
    • Psycho Circus was widely announced as the first studio album in over a decade by the band's original line-up. In reality, only one of the album's songs, "Into the Void", was recorded with all 4 band members, this song being also the only one where Criss actually played drums. Ace Frehley only played lead guitars on three songs and vocals on three other songs. The rest of the songs were recorded with studio musicians Kevin Valentine (drums) and Tommy Thayer (lead guitar; he later picked up the "Spaceman" make-up).
  • Big Applesauce:
    • Gene told Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine that he was heavily inspired by the channel in New York City that always played King Kong (1933).
    • Ace has said that, as a kid growing up in New York, the best moment of his career was playing Madison Square Garden.
    • Also the song "New York Groove" from Ace's solo album.
  • Bigger Is Better: EVERYTHING. This Is Spinal Tap may have been the Trope Namer for Up to Eleven, but KISS got there a decade early. Gene told Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine that he was inspired by how much bigger everything in America was compared to Israel. He mentioned "the abundance of food, the idea of markets being supermarkets. In other countries, you have Charlemagne or someone like that, but in America you have Superman. And he's from another planet. How perfect." He also compared the idea of Kiss performing only in small clubs to having an elephant in your kitchen.
    • That said, the MTV Unplugged show worked surprisingly well.
  • Camp Straight: Do not be fooled by Paul Stanley's campy poses and outfits. He's actually pretty much a ladies' man.
  • Carpet of Virility: Simmons, Criss, Thayer, and especially Stanley.
  • Colour Coded Characters: Since the solo albums: Red - Gene, Green - Peter/Eric, Blue - Ace/Tommy, Purple - Paul.
  • Concept Album: Music from "The Elder", a big and ambitious project that even involved a big-budget movie and a world-wide tour for a while, but...
  • Costume Porn/Impossibly Cool Clothes/Unlimited Wardrobe: The band is infamous for this.
  • Contagious Laughter: If Ace laughs, everyone around laughs (sometimes even Gene).
  • Cover Version:
    • "Kissin' Time" by Bobby Rydell on their self-titled debut album.
    • "Then She Kissed Me" (a Gender Flip version of the original song by The Crystals) on Love Gun.
    • "Any Way You Want It" by the Dave Clark Five on Alive II.
    • "2000 Man" by The Rolling Stones on Dynasty. It was even played by the band on the New Years' Eve concert leading to 2000.
    • "Odyssey" by Tony Powers on Music from "The Elder".
    • "Hide Your Heart" (written by Paul Stanley and originally performed by Bonnie Tyler) on Hot In The Shade.
    • "God Gave Rock And Roll To You" (a remake of the original from Argent) on the Bill And Ted's Bogus Journey soundtrack.
    • "New York Groove" by Hello on the Ace Frehley solo album.
    • "Tossin' And Turnin'" on the Peter Criss solo album.
    • "When You Wish Upon A Star" from Pinocchio on the Gene Simmons solo album.
    • Kiss My Ass is an entire album of KISS songs covered by other artists. Little tip for J-Rock fans: Yoshiki performs "Black Diamond" in it.
  • Darker and Edgier:
  • Dedication: Each guy dedicated his solo album to the other three guys (e.g., Ace's to Gene, Paul and Peter, etc.)
  • Double Entendre: Used frequently, with Ace's "Shock Me" and "Rocket Ride" being good examples.
  • Double Meaning Chorus: "Detroit Rock City"'s chorus has a second meaning with its downer ending.
  • Downer Ending: The character in "Detroit Rock City" dies in a car crash.
  • Dress Rehearsal Video: "I Love It Loud".
  • Echoing Acoustics: "Detroit Rock City." Khazad-dûm, meet Motown.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: The intro to "Rock Bottom" from Dressed To Kill, which lasts 1 minute 57 seconds.
  • Face on the Cover: Their self-titled debut album, Dynasty, Creatures Of The Night, and Asylum are notable examples of this. Rock And Roll Over combines this with Design Student's Orgasm.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: Again, "I Love It Loud". Then it fades out again...
  • Fanservice: Stanley's costumes are designed around this trope, showcasing his Carpet of Virility. Simmons' and Criss' also, to lesser extents. Frehley is rather modest in comparison.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Mark St. John (who died in 2007) is starting to become this.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Paul - phlegmatic, Gene - choleric, Ace - sanguine, and Peter - melancholic.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Subverted. KISS is often spelled in all-caps, and has been rumoured to be an acronym, with meanings such as "Knights In Satan's Service" or "Kids In your Sister's Skirt", but has been shown to be false.
  • Genre Shift: KISS has been known to alter their sound and image in response to popular trends. The Song "I Was Made For Lovin' You" was KISS's attempt to cash in on the disco craze that was sweeping the world at the time (and the song was a hit). During the 1980s KISS abandoned their makeup and started making Hair Metal rather than the 1970s-style hard rock they had done previously. During the 1990s the media was overrun with 1970s nostalgia, and KISS put the makeup back on and all but abandoned their "Unmasked" music catalog.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: If you really pay attention to the lyrics of the song "Nothin' to Lose", it becomes apparent that the song is about a man talking his girlfriend into anal sex. Although she's initially reluctant, she agrees and ends up enjoying it. Word of God has confirmed that this is what the song is about. For a song released in 1974 it had very racy subject matter, but most people didn't realize what it was really about because the chorus was so catchy. KISS even got away with performing the song on Dick Clark's TV show, and it's remained concert staple for the band for over 40 years.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "Spit":
    "It don't mean spit to me."
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The cover of Hotter Than Hell had these.
    • Bilingual Bonus: The Japanese in the top-right corner (地獄のさけび, or Jigoku no Sakebi) translates as "Hell's shout" or "The shout of hell".
    • "Blind Idiot" Translation/Good Bad Translation: On the other hand, the members' names are a little... off. In particular, Frehley's name being rendered as エイス フューリ (Ace Fury) instead of エースフレーリー.
    • The live bootleg they released alongside Sonic Boom is titled Jigoku Retsuden (Hellish Transmission).
  • Great Balls of Fire: Spectacle is their motto.
  • Guttural Growler: Gene Simmons. Evidence A: "God of Thunder".
  • Heavy Meta: "Rock and Roll All Nite", "Detroit Rock City", "Let Me Go, Rock n' Roll", "Rock and Roll Hell"...
  • Heavy Mithril: "God of Thunder".
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Gene and Paul are the only two members of KISS who have been there from the start, and they've always been close friends and allies. The other members of KISS have remarked that when important decisions needed to be made regarding the band, Gene and Paul would *always* side with each other, which meant the other members got their opinions overruled.
  • Hidden Depths: Gene had been a teacher prior to his music career.
  • "I Am" Song: Fittingly titled "I"
  • "I Want" Song: "I Just Wanna"
  • Iconic Item:
    • Ace Frehley isn't Ace Frehley without his three-pickup orange sunburst Gibson Les Paul.
    • Gene Simmons' Axe bass.
  • Iconic Outfit: The make-up and costumes. The distinctive face paint patterns have become symbols for individual band members in later years.
  • Invention Pretension: Gene Simmons has claimed that he invented the "heavy metal horns" hand gesture, even though Ronnie James Dio was using it for years before Gene.
    • Not only that, but Simmons didn't start using it until after he was shown making the gesture on the cover of Love Gun.
  • Instrumentals
    • "Love Theme From KISS" from their self-titled debut album.
    • "Fractured Mirror" from Ace Frehley's 1978 solo album.
    • "Fanfare" and "Escape From The Island" from Music from "The Elder".
    • "Carr Jam 1981" from Revenge.
  • Insult Backfire:
    • Calling them sell-outs.
    • Back when the Knights in Satan's Service rumour was all the rage, seeing religious fanatics and the like shouting and screaming quotes from the Old Testament at the group wasn't unheard of. Neither was seeing Gene Simmons (a theology major) quoting them back.
    • Gene Simmons' most recent solo album was titled Asshole.
  • Intercourse with You: A huge portion of their catalogue. Notable examples: "Christeen Sixteen" (about a guy lusting after a sixteen year old) to "Hotter Than Hell" (about a guy lusting after a married woman) to "Heaven's On Fire" (about a guy having sex, and may or may not have inspired a large amount of the sex dialogue seen in all kinds of fandoms' fanfic sex scenes).
  • It's All About Me: According to Paul Stanley's book, this would be Simmons' personal trope.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Though he may seem like a boastful, womanizing egomaniac; Gene Simmons is actually a very shrewd businessman and investor.
    • Paul Stanley starred in the titular role of The Phantom of the Opera in Toronto in 1999 and was praised for his performance in the role.
  • Jerkass: Gene Simmons is somewhat infamous for being a huge asshole and is completely unrepentant about it.
  • Kavorka Man: Gene Simmons is anything but handsome and is known for being a raging egomaniac and asshole, but he claims to have bedded over a thousand women.
  • Kneel Before Zod: In "God of Thunder"
    I am the lord of the wastelands
    A modern-day man of steelnote .
    I gather darkness to please me
    And I command you to kneel before the...
    God of Thunder, and rock n' roll!
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: Paul Stanley's stage banter until the reunion was mostly innuendo. He's toned it down somewhat since long-time fans began bringing their kids, but it's still there.
  • Large Ham: Paul and Gene, for the most part.... and most of that most part is Gene, bordering on Fun Personified.
  • Last Note Nightmare: The album version of "Detroit Rock City" ends with a car skidding, crashing and exploding. Then the record segues into "King of the Night Time World".
  • Last-Second Word Swap: "I Just Wanna":
    Time to take my chances, find somebody new
    I just wanna fu-
    I just wanna fu-
    I just wanna forget you
  • Later Installment Weirdness: Although they had started to drift toward Hair Metal as early as their fifth studio album, Rock and Roll Over, in 1976, in the 1980s Kiss fully embraced it, and their albums from the "non-makeup" years (1983-1992) sound drastically different from the "classic" Kiss sound, with fast (occasionally very fast) Van Halen-like solos. In part this was due to new guitarists - Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick - who sounded nothing like Ace Frehley. But it was also due to the band having to adopt a grittier and more "controversial" image in order to keep pace with the bands they'd inspired. Thus, along with the usual goofy anthems about sex, there are a number of Darker and Edgier tunes with more of a "punk" attitude and even some Precision F Strikes very much at odds with their former (relatively) kid-friendly image. The makeover was only partially successful, with Kiss having fallen into semi-obscurity by the late '80s and enjoying only scattered success until they put their makeup back on in 1996.
  • Lead Bassist: Gene is type B and C.
  • The Leader: Paul since the mid 80s, after Gene attempts to launch a movie career.
  • Legacy Character: The current guitarist and drummer wearing the founding members' make-up. It divides fans on whether it's fair.
    • Simmons and Stanley have demonstrated their willingness in the past to replace band members, but it's a little known fact that they have also planned for their own replacement when they get too old or die. Simmons wants Kiss to live on long after all the original members are dead and buried.
    • Not just that, but Paul and Gene have said that they envision that their own stage persona's will be filled by other musicians after they retire. They want the band to keep going even after all of the original members are no longer performing.
  • Licensed Pinball Table: Two of them:
    • Bally released a KISS pinball game in 1979, and it became one of pinball's top ten tables ever made. Click here for details.
    • In May 2015, Stern Pinball announced plans to release a new KISS pinball game, complete with a ball-spitting Gene Simmons' head and a Paul Stanley-inspired levitating stage.
  • Licensed Sexist: In a 1995 interview, Gene Simmons frankly explained that he believed it's better for a rock band to have a largely male fan-base rather than a female one because male fans tend to be more loyal.
    Gene Simmons: You don't want a large female audience. If you depend on women to buy your records, you end up going the way of the New Kids on the Block. Female audiences tend to be unfaithful.
    • Though he would later disavow this viewpoint.
  • Long-Runner Lineup: The original formation played for 13 non-consecutive years: first from 1972-80, then a reunion from 1996 to 2001 (although as Blatant Lies shows, the reunion was more live than on studio).
    • The current line-up of Stanley-Simmons-Thayer-Singer is just starting to finish 10 years, having been together since 2004.
  • Love It or Hate It: Actively invoked and encouraged (!) by the band.
    Paul Stanley: "If you want to hate us, God bless you! If you love us, that's great too. If you're in the middle... get out!"
  • Made of Iron:
    • Arguably Frehley, as he was electrocuted during an early concert but recovered well enough to finish the show. Since then, the band use wireless guitars (one of the first bands to do so!), and Ace wrote a song about this accident, "Shock Me", which became his vocal debut. Which is fitting, considering that iron conducts electricity...
    • When KISS was starting and some of their (now famous) concert's antics hadn't been perfected yet, there was one occasion were Simmons accidentally swallowed the (highly toxic) kerosene of his fire breathing stunt. Gene ignored the excruciating abdominal pain and finished the show instead of stopping the concert there and rushing to the hospital. Gene's also set his hair on fire at least once doing his firebreathing stunt.
  • Master of Disguise: "Man Of 1000 Faces" from Gene Simmons' 1978 solo album: "I can put on any face; you won't know me, but it's no disgrace."
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Usually in the 5-6 range. Their ballads drop significantly below this.
  • Money, Dear Boy: One of the few performers to admit that this is their motivating factor. If there is a buck to be made in it KISS will do it. Gene Simmons proudly admits that he became a musician to get rich and attract girls.
  • Monster Clown: The cover of Psycho Circus.
  • New Sound Album: Several, most of which were not well received by the fanbase and are still divisive to this daynote :
    • Dynasty was heavily disco-influenced, especially "I Was Made for Loving You".
    • Music from "The Elder" was an attempt at a Progressive Rock Concept Album (described by Simmons later as sounding like a bad Genesis record).
    • Asylum was pure Glam Rock and had the band wearing androgynous make-up and outfits.
    • Crazy Nights was a keyboard-heavy AOR album.
    • Revenge was more hard rock and featured darker lyrics than their mid-eighties Hair Metal / Glam Rock output.
    • Carnival of Souls was a Grunge-inspired, very heavy, metal album.
  • Naughty by Night: "Thrills in the Night" from Animalize tells the story of a woman who works a 9-to-5 job but moonlights as a hooker.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Invoked by Gene in the April 1996 issue of Guitar Magazine:
    GENE: "There's no such thing as bad press, there's only press. If you don't get press, that's bad."
  • No Swastikas: Due to German law, the band's usual logo (the band name with the two S characters depicted as lightning bolts) cannot be used in Germany (because the double-S resembles the Schutzstaffel logo). While the band has been accused of being Nazis, it seems unlikely that Simmons or Stanley (both being Jewish descendants of concentration camp survivors) intended the logo that way. Hence, the alternative logo with two backwards Z.
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "Sweet Pain" from Destroyer.
  • One Paul Limit: Stanley Eisen took the stage name Paul Stanley. When guitarist Paul Frehley joined up, he used his nickname 'Ace' as a first name to avoid confusion.
    • When Paul Caravello took Peter Criss' place as the drummer, he took on the name Eric Carr.
  • Only One Female Mold: In the cover of Love Gun, as seen here. 'They' are based of the wife of Ken Kelly (the painter of this cover, as well as Destroyer's), who served as a model for all the poses.
  • Overly Long Tongue: Gene Simmons, infamously. During an interview with Oprah Winfrey, when she asked him how long his tongue was, he replied, "Enough to make you happy, baby."
  • Performance Video: Most of their videos.
  • Phallic Weapon: "Love Gun".
  • Power Ballad: Generally written by Stanley or Criss. "Beth", "Shandi", "Forever" (which had even input from Michael Bolton in the songwriting), "God Gave Rock and Roll to You"...
  • Professional Wrestling: In summer 1999, Kiss and WCW set up a deal to introduce a wrestling character based on Gene's Demon persona. The August 23rd episode of WCW Monday Nitro ended with Kiss faking "God of Thunder," with wrestler Brian Adams emerging from a sarcophagus as the Demon. This was supposed to lead to a feud with Canadian wrestler El Vampiro that would culminate in a special New Year's Evenote  PPV. The storyline would have involved Vampiro attempting to straighten out the Demon, who would have been revealed at some point to be the son of Satan. These plans were abandoned when then-boss Eric Bischoff was canned for poor TV ratings and wasting the company's money on guests such as KISS. Adams never wrestled a single match in the gimmick. Instead, the gimmick was given to Jobber Dale Torborg, who would feud with Vampiro in June-July 2000 before joining his Juggalo Heel Power Stable the Dark Carnival, which included Kiss-haters (see Arch-Enemy above) the Insane Clown Posse. The gimmick never really got over, and, as part of Sting's feud with Vampiro, Sting Squashed the Demon in 53 seconds at the abysmal New Blood Rising PPV on August 13th.
  • The Rashomon: See if you can find a straight answer for how much overdubbing was applied to Alive!.
  • Rated M for Manly: ...Besides the informed ballads.
  • Reality Show: Gene Simmons Family Jewels.
  • Really Gets Around: All of the band members had their groupies, but Gene Simmons was the most promiscuous of the lot note .
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Paul got purple as his main colour (look at his jacket in Dynasty!). His Camp Straight behaviour, and the fact he wrote several pop oriented songs ("I Was Made For Lovin' You"...) doesn't help.
  • Revolving Door Band: And "revolving" is especially true as the members other than Gene and Paul come and go and back.
  • Robot or Spaceman Alter Ego: Ace Frehley originated the Spaceman. Later, Tommy Thayer took this identity.
  • Rock Bottom: They have a song with this title.
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: "Unholy":
    "I was created by man, yeah I'm the Lord of the flies, you know I'm"
    • In addition the Backronym by unhappy parents that KISS stood for "Knights In Satan's Service"
  • Rock Trio: KISS has performed as a trio on a couple of occasions - in January 1982 when the band played "I" without Ace, and in 2007 when Paul suffered an irregular heartbeat and elected to not perform.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: Paul at the end of "Black Diamond".
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: They stomp around on stage in crazy costumes, their bass player breathes fire, spits blood, and looks like a demon, the lead guitarist is fond of putting fireworks in his guitar... and some of their biggest hits are "Beth", "Hard Luck Woman", and "I Was Made For Lovin' You", which sounds like it belongs on an "easy-listening" station.
    • The best example of this trope is from the Simmons solo album: Gene Simmons sings a heartfelt version of When You Wish Upon A Star.
  • Scatting: DO do do do DO do do do do DO do do do DO DO do...
  • Self-Titled Album: For the band (1974) and each of its members (1978).
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: This trope is seen when you compare the lyrics of songs written by Paul with the lyrics of songs written by Gene. Paul spent decades searching for the woman of his dreams and had his heart famously broken by actress Donna Dixon, while Gene spent decades having sex with every willing woman in his path and denouncing monogamy. Some of the more famous songs written by Paul include "I Want You", "Strutter", "Anything for My Baby", and "Shandi", which are all songs about Paul longing for a woman he can't have. Meanwhile, Gene wrote songs like "Calling Dr. Love", "Christine Sixteen", and "Nothing to Lose" which all have very sexual lyrics.
    • Gene also was one of the writers on "War Machine" and "Unholy," neither of which have any kind of sexual contact, being anthems of destruction and Satan, respectively.
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: One of the hosts of the original version of 3-2-1 Contact had a backstage look at the intricate preparation and management of a concert of the band.
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: The entire band to varying degrees, but not necessarily all together:
    • Peter and Ace's issues with drugs and booze contributed heavily to their eventually leaving the band.
    • Gene claims that he has never been drunk or done drugs. On the other hand, he is one of rock and roll's most notorious womanisers and has reportedly had sex with thousands of women.
  • Shout-Out:
    • They get one of the best-known in rock when Cheap Trick mentions them in Surrender. During live shows, Cheap Trick would toss KISS albums to their audiences.
    • They also get mentioned in Weezer's "In the Garage".
    • Gene said that "Calling Dr. Love" was inspired by the "Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard" announcements in The Three Stooges' short Men In Black.
    • In the liner notes to Jellyfish's debut, Bellybutton, Steve MacDonald (of Redd Kross] is credited as having "played bass, breathed fire and spit(ted) blood".
    • Gene Simmons' own costume and stage persona of The Demon has several comic book references, not the least of which is Black Bolt from Marvel's Inhumans.
  • Solo Side Project: Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter did this by releasing solo albums at the same time in 1978.
  • Spin-Off: All KISS members, both former and current, released albums and formed bands at one point or another with varying degrees of success. Simmons' A**hole, Stanley's Live to Win, Ace Frehley's Frehley's Comet, Peter Criss' Criss, Mark St. John's White Tiger, the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, the Eric Singer Project (with Bruce Kulick), Thayer's former group Black n' Blue...
    • Frehley's "New York Groove" became one of many anthems for New York City.
  • Stage Names: The only members to use their birth names are Tommy Thayer and Bruce Kulick (for starters, the original four all used stage names; Simmons was born Chaim Witz, Paul Stanley is Stanley Harvey Eisen, Ace Frehley's first name is really Paul, and Peter Criss' real name is George Crisscoula). Many members went ahead and used at least one of their birth names for their stage names, though (for example, Vinnie Vincent is Vincent Cusano, and Mark St. John is Mark Norton).
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Peter on "Hooligan," which likely explained why he never got another opportunity. Ace does this on Love Gun's song "Shock Me", since before that Ace was too shy to record lead vocals on any song, and since then continues to sing lead.
    • Oh, and Peter messed up the lyrics to "Rock N Roll All Nite," of all possible songs, on MTV Unplugged.
    • Actually, as a member, Peter got to sing again on the following album's Dirty Living, plus two songs on Alive II, plus his complete solo Kiss album from 1978.
    • Eric Carr does a cover of "Beth" on the 1988 Smashes, Thrashes, And Hits album.
    • Bruce Kulick gets a moment as the lead vocalist in "I Walk Alone" from Carnival Of Souls.
    • Eric Singer does the lead in "All For The Glory" and Tommy Thayer does it in "When Lightning Strikes" from Sonic Boom.
    • Eric in "All For The Love Of Rock & Roll" and Tommy in "Outta This World" from Monster.
    • Gene Simmons sings lead on "God of Thunder".
  • Strictly Formula: After the craptastic result of the experimental Music From the Elder, this became their mantra music-wise. This is why Sonic Boom and Monster ended up working out well. For the latter, they didn't even use anything digital, resulting in the decidedly old-school sound of the record.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Beth".
  • Surreal Music Video: The clip for "Psycho Circus".
    • What's even more surreal is watching it with the 3D glasses that the VHS version came with.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • Eric Carr replaced Peter Criss in 1980 with a similar animal motif make up (Compare Carr's Fox persona to Criss' Catman) and was also the shortest member in the line-up.
      • After Carr's death, he was replaced by another Eric, Eric Singer.
    • Vinnie Vincent (The Ankh Warrior) replaced Ace Frehley (The Space Ace) in 1982 with a similarly cosmic character, and they were both the skinniest of their respective line-ups.
    • Tommy Thayer wears Ace Frehley's make-up, has a similar costume, sings his old songs (notably "Shock Me") in concert, and has a similar guitar solo set-piece, complete with fireworks. Although not as pronounced (due to his being behind a drum-kit) Eric Singer wears Peter Criss's original make-up and sings his vocal parts (such as the lead on "Black Diamond") as well.
  • Take That!: Simmons wrote "I" as a Take That! to Frehley - hence the line:
    I don't need to get wasted - it only holds me back
  • Temporary Substitute: Before a 1997 concert, Peter Criss refused to go out on stage unless he was paid more. The band's solution? Put Criss' make-up on drum tech Ed Canon, introduce him at the beginning of the show, and rock on! Nobody in the audience asked for a refund, and Criss never missed another concert during his tenure with the group.
  • Trust Me, I'm a Doctor: Gene's slogan in commercials for Dr. Pepper Cherry soda, where he plays "Calling Dr. Love" in full KISS costume.
    • The song itself may qualify:
      So as you please get on your knees
      There are no bills, there are no fees
      Baby, I know what your problem is
      The first step of the cure is... a kiss
  • Unplugged Version: "Hard Luck Woman" is one of the band's few acoustic guitar songs.
  • Verbal Tic: Watch/listen to any interview with Ace Frehley, and take a drink any time he says "y'know." Let's just say you better own one of them Kiss Kaskets, because you'll be needing it very shortly.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Usually between Paul and Gene, but the rest is given a chance. Well, except for...
  • The Voiceless: Vinnie Vincent and Mark St. John have the dubious honour of being the only two KISS ex-members to never sing lead vocals on at least one song; St. John being the only member to not even sing backing vocals.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A rather tragic case is former guitarist Vinnie Vincent. He'd fallen on very hard times in recent years due to his drug and alcohol addiction, the death of his wife, being scammed out of thousands of dollars by someone who claimed they wanted to mass produce his Flying 'V' guitar and had been arrested because some rather crazy fans decided to plant conatiners with dead dogs in them on his property. After this, his home was found to be abandoned and in terrible condition (these pictures were apparently taken after the realtor had the house cleaned out.) He hasn't been seen or heard from since then and many fans fear he may be dead.